What is Quirkos? Quirkos is a qualitative research software that helps you categorize, manage and understand text data. This can be further used to compare different texts, while allowing you to organize themes that can come across different texts. Not only that, Quirkos also produces reports that include visual representations of the data categorized. This is a perfect tool for digital humanists who want to find ways of visually representing themes across a variety of texts.
In this tutorial, I will be going over the basic steps on how to use Quirkos. I decided to compare three different texts: Message to the Tri-Continental by Che Guevara, History Will Absolve Me by Fidel Castro, and The Second Declaration of Havana, also by Fidel Castro. The reason I chose these three texts is because I just finished reading a book by Anita Casavantes Bradford, The Revolution is for the Children: The Politics of Childhood in Havana and Miami, which argued that child-centered discourse was central to the promotion of the revolution, and I wanted to see how the three texts reflected such argument.
Quirkos offers a 30-day- free download trial on Windows, Mac and Linux. You can download Quirkos here. Once you install the program, open it and you will find that it offers a quick and easy to understand step-by-step-guide.
Click to add a new source. A box will appear so that you can import source from your files stored in your computer. You can select one source, if you only want to analyze the text in that source specifically, or add more sources, if you’re like me, and want to compare the different textual documents.
After selecting a few documents, the fun begins! On the small search icon, search for words or phrases that you would like to see the frequency for in the texts.
Like this: I searched the word children, and sentences in which the world children appears are shown. After, create a quirkos, by clicking on the plus button on the top side, and name it children (or whatever category you are searching for). Highlight the phrases you want to place on the quirkos and drag them to that specific quirkos. You can categorize the quirkos into different colors, which comes in handy once you find a repetition in the categorization in another categorization, like in this case, when I searched for oppression and the United States.
After you finish searching and categorizing words or phrases, you can also track the frequency in which certain words or phrases in your quirkos appeared. Click on view button on the side, then select the Arrange by Number of Words, and Quirks as Tree View options. The quirkos will appear in order of frequency.
Last but not least, you can display your findings in a fun and interactive way. In the end, I did find that children was a word that was mentioned quite a lot in all the texts I decided to use, more than many other relevant words to the revolution. Quirkos is a fun way of finding out correlations between texts, and tracking down frequencies of words, but this by no means it is causation. Regardless, it is a really helpful, and creative qualitative research tool.